Comparing different types of paper 6

For quite a while I’ve been planning on having a closer look at how different paper performs for pencil use.

I think it started because I loved the County Fair Field Notes I got from Koralatov, but when I tried the Original Field Notes (FN-01 to FN-04) I didn’t like the paper at all. (According to the text in the back the County Fair edition is using Boise Offset Smooth 50#T paper, while the Original version is using Finch Paper Opaque Smooth 60#T.)

Well, I thought I better have a closer look. Long term, i.e. if this is of interest to readers, I plan on also measuring how abrasive the paper is, but I haven’t found an easily reproducible way of doing that yet that can be measured accurately, so I am focussing on how dark a line the different papers will produce with the same lead.

Following Kent’s post about the Lumograph being a good standard pencil, because it is good, not expensive and available world wide, I wanted to use the Lumograph, but for several reasons (I don’t want to bore you with them) I went with the next best alternative: Staedtler’s mechanical pencil lead.

Violin plot 6 papers

Violin plots showing the distribution of darkness of the marks left by the lead on different papers

Methodology

I try keep it short, but more details are available if there is interest.

Force used: 1.5 Newton (roughly equivalent to 150g)

Lead used: Staedtler lead, 0.7mm, the one that came with the Mars micro. I assume it is HB, but I have added a Staedtler 0.7mm HB lead to a recent order from The Pen Company, so that I can use those leads for future comparisons.

Pressure used: 4.17 MegaPascala

As seen in this blog post a 0.7mm lead has a diameter of 0.68mm, that’s a surface area of 0.36mm2. That’s a force of just over 4 MegaPascals. The equivalent force used on an 0.5mm lead to produce this pressure would be 1 Newton.

I found these parameters to be a suitable trade off between force and diameter size. More force means more problems with me providing consistent, reproducible results. The obvious way out would be to reduce the lead size (= more pressure per square mm), but a smaller diameter means measuring the lead’s darkness becomes more difficult and less representative.

Notebooks used for the comparison

Notebooks used for the comparison

Paper

Some quick comments on the paper.

Atoma

Great and extremely dark for pencils. So unusually dark that you can easily switch to a harder pencil grade and get a similar darkness compared to other paper. My wife started using an H lead for writing in Atoma notebooks.

I did a control sample to confirm that the plot shown in the diagram is correct.

Banditapple

As always great paper! This is the latest generation of Banditapple paper: 4G, just released.

Silvine

Very common in the UK. Most Post Offices will sell Silvine products, but unfortunately the red Memo Books have become a rare sight. Silvine is planning to revive their red notebooks.

Boise

Used in County Fair Field Notes. Great paper.

Tomoe River

Very light and smooth paper. I expected a smaller standard deviation. The notebook used is a handmade notebook from Shangching, previously seen in this video.

Finch

Used in the Original Field Notes. I don’t like it for pencils. I should probably switch to using softer pencils in this notebook, then this paper might be alright. Also not good for fountain pens.

Box plots including two control samples on the right

Box plots including two control samples on the right

The diagrams

The diagrams show the distribution of dark and light marks left by the lead on he paper.

I first planned on using box plots. I have heard that they even teach box plots in school these days, but I went with violin plots instead. violin plots are basically box plots with a rotated kernel density plot on each side. I thought this provides more information, compared to box plots, in the same space.

I have taken samples of exactly the same size from the mark left by the pencil on all these papers. In the diagram 3.0 represents white, 0.0 represents black, so you can see the distribution of dark and white in the mark left by the lead on the paper. A darker mark, like the one on Atoma paper, will show as a plot further down (closer to 0.0) in the diagram.

Smoother, finer paper should produce less variation, i.e. a more even colour, so the plot should be more condensed. Rougher paper should have more ‘peaks and troughs’ on the surface, so the darkest areas should be darker and the lightest areas should be lighter, resulting in a stretched plot.

There are two control samples, only visible in the box plots. They are taken from the cover of Field Notes Byline edition. They are just used to see whether using different samples in different scans will produce close enough results in the plots.

 

Where to go from here

If this is of interest I could look at the different types of paper used in different Field Notes. I could put the R code used to produce this on GitHub. I also have a great paper sample pack from Scribble I could have a look at. Long term the darkness could be plotted against the abrasiveness of the paper.

If there is at least one comment on this blog post I will continue exploring paper, if not I will write blog posts about topics other than paper that might be more interesting, e.g. pencils.


A limited Noris

Sean spotted this limited edition artist’s impression of the Noris in a mall in Tampa, Florida.
It seems to be part of a limited edition of 50 pieces.
noris50


I’d like to thank Sean for showing me this Noris in the wild and for letting me post about it.


Pencil Pot Of The Month – July 2016

forhoja1

Description: A birch pencil pot from IKEA

Price: £15 (~$20; €18) for a set of four boxes

Material: Birch

Further information: A pencil pot made from birch, from IKEA’s Förhöja set. I didn’t see this set on the American IKEA web site, but on the continent it is much cheaper than in the UK (€14.99 vs. £15).

forhoja2


Prices and exchange rates: July 2016


The Flâneuse and the pencil 2

I’m familiar with the German verb flanieren (to stroll), but I didn’t know that is seems to be a ‘serious hobby’ and art until I heard about the Flâneuse on Radio 4 on my way to work this morning.

Why is this of interest in a pencil blog? ..because it all starts with the need for a pencil – from Street Haunting:  A London Adventure (1930)

…so when the desire comes upon us to go street rambling the pencil does for a pretext, and getting up we say: “Really I must buy a pencil”.

We are no longer quite ourselves. As we step out of the house on a fine evening between four and six, we shed the self our friends know us by and become part of that vast republican army of anonymous trampers, whose society is so agreeable after the solitude of one’s own room.

Radio 4 talked about it at 8:21am when presenting the idea from a book by Lauren Elkin.

It’s very good if you find a pencil on your stroll through the streets because part of this hobby seems to be that you then write down what you have observed.

Good that there’s a happy end. At the end of the clip they luckily do find a pencil shop.

You can listen to it on the Radio 4 web site. You have to jump about 2h 21m into the programme to hear the part about the Flâneuse (and the pencil).


Designing a 3D printed pen 2

…just a quick follow up to yesterday’s blog post about Staedtler’s 3D-printed pen.

Staedtler’s app needed to design the 3D printed pen is (currenlty) only available for the iPad. When I got my hand on an iPad another problem came up. You can only get Staedtler’s app from the German Apple App Store. I did manage to get access to the German App Store, but it wasn’t not easy, so I thought I make a quick video of how the process of choosing/designing your pen looks like – for those unable to try it out themselves.

Here’s a look at ‘designing’ a Fusion-Line pen.

In the YouTube comments Julie Paradise pointed out that the difference between the  M and the A (beginner) nibs is that A nibs

…have the tipping of the nib shaped differently, more “forgiving” to rotating the pen while writing instead of having a smaller “sweet spot”.

Here’s a look at ‘designing’ an Icon-Line pen.

I guess we’ll see many more 3D printed pens in the future. As a start in this new era Staedtler’s Fusion and Icon-Line seem rather good.